Wikipedia:List of accidents and incidents on commercial aircraft/Guideline for inclusion criteria and format

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This page is intended to help achieve and maintain standardized List inclusion criteria and format for the List of accidents and incidents involving commercial aircraft article.


List articles on Wikipedia in general suffer from several common problems:

  1. Vague inclusion criteria: confusion about eligibility causes constant conflicts, especially with newer contributors to the list and/or inconsistent entries
  2. Inconsistent format: entries contributed by different editors are different in format and style, making the list harder to read with haphazard appearance
  3. Bloat: good lists should be restricted in length to about 25-32K, while poor ones bloat indefinitely due to lack of standards and controls – overly long lists should be broken up into smaller sub articles

The above are general ailments that many lists suffer from. The specific list here is no exception, and its current state reflects all these generic problems. Specifically, it may be missing some fairly notable cases while including marginally notable or non-notable ones. It has differing grammar and punctuation styles for different entries: present vs. past tense, semi-colon separated single sentence vs. period separated multi sentence, etc. It is also excessively bloated, currently weighing in at 87 kilobytes, more than 3 times the recommended size for a good list article.


Wikipedia is open to change by anyone at any time, but list articles specifically are extremely difficult to maintain properly, as they consist of a long list of individual items. The only way to maintain a high quality list is by agreeing on a rigid set of rules for the list and strictly enforcing them. If some editor is unhappy with the list status, s/he can either work to change the rules (with resultant retroactive changes possibly needed in the list) or start a new list with his/her own rules. But once the rules exist, even if they are not perfect or ideal by everyone's perspective, they must be enforced, or else the list degrades in quality over time.
The restriction to minimize the number of entries, and minimize the words per entry, could seem to contradict the 'Wikipedia is not paper' rule, but in fact the non-paper rule deals with inclusion of articles into Wikipedia, not entries into a list. If a list has too many entries and becomes excessively long, it loses its readability, usefulness and attractiveness.

Also, Wikipedia in general, and this List article specifically, only allow inclusion of notable and verifiable entries. If each individual List entry is already wiki-linked to its own existing Wikipedia article, then by definition its notability and verifiability have been (or will be) proven and maintained elsewhere. On the other hand, if an entry were not linked to an article it would shift the burden to prove and maintain its notability and verifiability to the List level, which could require prolonged AfD-like debates along with supplying and vetting of multiple references per entry. This would have to be done in addition to the normal task of determining the specific List admissibility criteria, and would require including and vetting multiple references per entry, which would increase the overall article size beyond the recommended limits and require excessive attention and effort per entry.

Specific rules for this list[edit]

Inclusion criteria[edit]

  1. Each entry in this list must be linked to a specific corresponding Wikipedia article about the accident or incident being described; if there is no such article, write it first and then insert it in this list; if the article is deleted, its list entry will also be deleted (but see 'Proposed enforcement mechanism' below about temporary insertion into the Talk page)
  2. Each entry in this list must describe an aviation accident or incident (see definitions in section below) that involves at least one commercial aircraft (as defined in the includable commercial aircraft section below)

Entry tense[edit]

This article is sorted by increasing time and is a timeline type list. The present tense sounds more dynamic and engaging, as if describing unfolding events in real time. Therefore, each entry in this article shall be in the present tense only as it describes the specific event.

Entry length[edit]

No individual entry in this list shall exceed 40 words; if the entry describes an accident involving multiple aircraft then the maximum size may be increased to 60 words. This is a maximum value and should not be used unless absolutely needed; we want to keep the overall article size to a minimum so simpler events should use less words, to allow more complex ones more space.

Entry style[edit]

Editors will attempt to minimize the words for each entry to convey the most critical highlights from the linked main article's lead: date, site, airline/flight number (link to accident/incident article), aircraft type, nature of accident/incident, reason(s) (when known), number of casualties. The structure shall normally be one long sentence broken up into sub-sentences by semi-colons. An en dash (–) is preferred over a regular dash (-) after the date to maintain consistency throughout the article. The link to the main article should be in bold text, as in the examples below.

Example 1:

July 9 – '''[[S7 Airlines Flight 778]]''', an Airbus A310, crashes on landing in Irkutsk, Russia; 128 killed
July 9 – S7 Airlines Flight 778, an Airbus A310, crashes on landing in Irkutsk, Russia; 128 killed

Example 2:

March 23 – A TransAVIAexport Airlines Ilyushin Il-76 '''[[2007 Mogadishu TransAVIAexport Airlines Il-76 crash|crashes]]''' – thought to have been shot down – in Mogadishu, Somalia, killing all 11 on board
March 23 – A TransAVIAexport Airlines Ilyushin Il-76 crashes – thought to have been shot down – in Mogadishu, Somalia, killing all 11 on board


Since the list items must all be linked to their main dedicated Wikipedia article, references should not be provided in the list article. All references related to an item should be included in its main article.[under discussion]

Definition of includable 'commercial' aircraft[edit]

For the purposes of this list article only we define 'includable commercial aircraft' involved in an accident or incident as any of the following:

  1. A civilian airliner, commuter, airtaxi or charter aircraft while carrying paying passengers, with minimum passenger seating capacity of 10 seats (8 passenger seats minimum prior to 1940); this specifically excludes flights operated under 14 CFR Part 91 in the U.S., or its legal equivalent elsewhere
  2. A civilian cargo aircraft while carrying cargo for hire, with a gross takeoff weight of at least 20,000 pounds and involved in an accident only (incidents for cargo aircraft of any size are excluded in this article)

Note that any entry in this article must also meet the notability criterion by having its own dedicated accident/incident Wikipedia article. In the case of a collision, at least one of the aircraft must meet the inclusion criteria on its own. Note also that military aircraft are specifically excluded from this list, as non-commercial. Aircraft chartered by the military from a civilian operator to transport troops are eligible for inclusion, as the operator was non-military. In the case of a collision between civilian and military aircraft, the civilian aircraft would have to be eligible for inclusion in its own right. Also, a civilian aircraft with a civilian crew, operated by a government to carry passengers, otherwise meeting the above minimum seating criteria, is includable.

Definition of aviation accidents and incidents[edit]

From the NTSB's site:[1]

An accident is defined as an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft that takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight and all such persons have disembarked, and in which any person suffers death or serious injury, or in which the aircraft receives substantial damage.
An incident is an occurrence other than an accident that affects or could affect the safety of operations.

The ICAO definitions are similar, though somewhat more involved.

Enforcement mechanism[edit]

  1. This guideline is a sub-page of the List article's page, and is linked to from the Talk page; the article includes one or more references to it in the comments (visible only to editors).
  2. Any new entry that does not meet the inclusion requirement of this guideline can be removed by anyone; the burden is on the includer to prove that a new entry meets the guideline (but as a courtesy, if the entry seems eligible except it lacks a corresponding article, please move the proposed entry to the 'holding area' per next item)
  3. Any editor who would like to add a new entry which is otherwise eligible for inclusion except that it currently lacks a Wikipedia article, is encouraged to temporarily insert the proposed entry into the article Talk page's temporary Holding zone subpage, until a corresponding article is prepared
  4. Entries with main articles which have been deleted as non-notable should not be added to the holding zone; the proper venue in such cases should be deletion review for the deleted articles
  5. Any new entry that does not conform to the style/grammar/format of the guideline should be fixed
  6. Old existing entries that do not conform to the style/grammar/format of the guideline will be fixed by volunteers over time
  7. This guideline requires all editors to conform to all applicable Wikipedia policies and encourages civil discourse at all times

Discussion mechanism[edit]

Discussion of this guideline will take place in its own Talk page. Any change to this guideline must be discussed and agreed to by consensus on that page.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "REPORTING AN ACCIDENT TO THE NTSB". Retrieved 2006-10-15.